I'm very honored to have received a Superior Scribbler Award from Chasing the Moon over at Dancing Down Serendipity Street. Moon is a fellow writer (who is extremely talented), a loyal fan of my book (and main character), and definitely a kindred spirit of mine. So thanks again, Moon! I can't express enough how glad I am we found each other in the vast expanse that is the blogosphere. :) Much moon love, girlfriend.
I'd also like to bring you up to speed on my recent activities. Last week I made a last-minute decision to enter Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Contest (ABNC) as a type of experiment. Since I'm currently in the rewriting stages, my book is not nearly ready to be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb, or even a wide-toothed pick, but I figured I had nothing to lose. The contest is free to enter (most of them are not), and I'm curious to see how far I can get with an unfinished product.
So, for those of you who are not familiar with ABNC, here are the stages and rules for this year's contest. There are two categories: Young Adult Fiction and General Fiction. They were accepting up to 5000 entries in each category. Since the General Fiction category closed several hours before the due date, there is definitely a full 5000 entrants in that category. The YA category did not close before its time, therefore there are less than 5000. But whether there's 2149 or 4993 entries is unknown.
The first round is based off of a 300-word Pitch. I had no idea what a pitch was, but I found a discussion thread on the contest website of other contestants posting their pitches and getting feedback on them, so I got the basic gist of it from there. A pitch is supposed to hook the reader, then give a couple of short paragraphs about your main characters, their goals and the obstacles they'll face, then finish with announcing the target audience for the book and why you think the book will appeal to that particular audience. All of that in 300 words or less!!!
Now, for those of you who have ever received an email from me, you know that it is physically impossible for me to pen any thought in less than 2-3 lengthy paragraphs. Yes, I am admitting to being (gasp) a wordy writer. In fact, I recently heard a nasty rumor that publishers look for a romance novel to be somewhere around 75,000 words. To which I eloquently replied, "Holy $@%*!!!" Why, do you ask? Because as it sits right now, my novel is over 133,000 WORDS! Do you know how much cutting I'll have to do? Forget the hedge trimmers. I'll need a high-powered chainsaw and possibly a wrecking ball! Now, that might not be for all romances, and I'm seriously hoping that was just for that one particular publishing wing (Harlequin's Nocturne section, which describes my novel perfectly, with the exception of the word count). Sorry, I kind of went on a tangent there.
Anyway, in the first stage of the contest, all of the pitches are reviewed and pared down to a meager 1000 entries (or less, if they feel there isn't 1000 pitches that are good enough to keep). I'm fully prepared to not pass the pitch stage. I had less than a day to aptly describe my gi-normous novel in an itty-bitty pitch that evoked extreme interest with talented writing.Yeah. Right.
The second round is based on an excerpt from the beginning of your book, between 3000 and 5000 words. Two judges read the excerpts and make comments on what they did/didn't like. Of those 1000 (or less) excerpts read, only 250 will make it to the 3rd round, which is having your entire manuscript read. The excerpt that I posted is 4997 words (you didn't think I was going to give them the minimum, did you?) and takes them all the way until Lysander tells Dom that it's Angelica he plans on taking. Even though I couldn't fit the entire chapter 2 into the excerpt, I did make sure it ended with a good hook. The only problem was that it was still 200 words over the max. So I went through the entire piece and deleted a sentence here and a sentence there - ones that weren't necessary to move the story along and probably wouldn't be missed unless you compared it side-by-side with the full MS - to get it under the required limit.
My hope was to somehow miraculously make it past the pitch round, and let my excerpt shine. I"m very proud of my first two chapters after having reworked them with my CP, MP (see previous post about CPs). I really want to at least make it successfully past the excerpt round. Then I would feel good about the work I've done on those first chapters. Since the rest of my MS has yet to be worked on, I wouldn't expect to make it as a finalist. In fact, I'd be flabbergasted if I did, and would then begin to question the legitimacy of the entire contest, knowing there's no way my first draft is good enough to be a finalist.
However, I was slightly disheartened when I realized that we couldn't upload our excerpts, but instead had to copy and paste into a text-only format. The problem with this is, anything in italics (such as words I wish to be emphasized in conversation or Dom's inner-thoughts) will now look like all the rest of the text. This will not only make things read flat (in my opinion), but also cause confusion when Dom has thoughts to himself, as they will be lumped in with the rest of the paragraphs, making it difficult to set apart. So, now I don't have much hope for my excerpt either, even if I miraculously pass the pitch round.
Either way, I'm glad I entered. It's going to be a learning experience, no matter what the outcome is. And since it was a last minute decision, I don't feel pressured to pass the first test, so to speak. I'm sure if I had more time and had the help of my writing friends, I would've been able to come up with a better pitch. We find out on the 24th if we've made it to the second round, so good news or bad, I'll let you know what happened.
Thanks for tuning in and listening to my incessant ramblings. That is, if there's even anyone out there. My followers tend to be more on the quiet side, so I'm never sure if anyone reads these or not. Oh well. I'm off to work on more rewrites. Perhaps I'll post my latest chapter two in a few days, if anyone's interested. :)